The tungsten lightbulb has served well over the century or so since it was introduced, but its days are numbered now with the arrival of LED lighting, which consume a tenth of the power of incandescent bulbs and have a lifespan 30 times longer. Potential uses of LEDs are not limited to illumination: smart lighting products are emerging that can offer various additional features, including linking your laptop or smartphone to the internet. Move over Wi-Fi, Li-Fi is here.
Wireless communication with visible light is, in fact, not a new idea. Everyone knows about using smoke signals on a desert island to try to capture attention.
Perhaps less well known is that in the time of Napoleon much of Europe was covered with optical telegraphs, otherwise known as the semaphore. his won’t be possible using existing wireless technology due to frequency congestion and electromagnetic interference. Li-Fi has the potential to replace radio and microwave frequency Wi-Fi. everal companies are already offering products for visible light communications. The Li-1st from PureLiFi, based in Edinburgh, offers a simple plug-and-play solution for secure wireless point-to-point internet access with a capacity of 11.5 Mbps - comparable to first generation Wi-Fi. Another is Oledcomm from France, which exploits the safe, non-radio frequency nature of Li-Fi with installations in hospitals. There are still many technological challenges to tackle but already the first steps have been taken to make Li-Fi a reality. In the future your light switch will turn on much more than just illumination.